Glenna Johnson is a woman with a secret life.
“I have been with Auto-Owners Insurance Company for 27 years. I’ve had several different positions all around the company and ultimately, now here, as an auditor. By day I’m a very boring, serious insurance auditor-slash-inspector… and by night, I’m “Fired Up”, a roller derby chick!”
Glenna joined the Tallahassee RollerGirls in 2014, but she first discovered roller derby while living in Gainesville where she says she had no friends, no social outlet and was unable to find friends her own age to do things with. Someone asked her what she was passionate about – what did she love to do?
And she said “I love to roller skate, but that’s, like, out of style these days.” Her friend commented that she needed something more athletic, and Glenna replied “That’s it! I’ll join the Roller Derby team!” as a joke. One January 29th, she googled Roller derby and found a local item that said new classes began February 3rd. “So I went.”
“From a very serious perspective, I mention the word “roller derby” and everyone’s face goes [gasp] ‘cool, how neat!’ or ‘What’s that?’ One of the two. Usually, if they’re older – my age or above – they used to watch it on TV back in the days when it was costumes and fishnets and WWE. It was a little more dramatic. Nowadays, there’s no drama. It’s all hard-hitting, painful hard work that’s a ton of fun.”
Roller derby is a sport won on points. The goal is to get as many points as possible. On the track, there are five people on each team. Four girls are blockers per team, and the fifth person, who wears a helmet with a star on it – she’s called a “jammer”. Jammers are the point-getters. The goals for the jammer to get through the pack of blockers, go around the track, and the next time they go around the track, any opponent they pass is worth a point. Teams want their jammers to go around as many times as possible and they don’t want the other team’s jammer to get through at all.
“You can’t hit them with the elbow like you did in the old days. You can’t trip them physically with your leg. You can’t hit them on their spinal cord… but pretty much everything else is fair game,” Glenna explains. “As a blocker, my goal is to get the other team on the ground or out of bounds so my girl can go around and get more points.”
For Glenna and many of the RollerGirls, it’s about more than racking up points on the track. “Roller derby is awesome. It really is. You get such an increased feeling of your own self. And I don’t want to say ‘self-worth’ because that sounds a little cheesy, but when I hit a girl and she fell down, it felt good. And my teammates said ‘Good job! That was a good hit!’ And the girl I knocked down looked up at me and said ‘That was a good hit!’ and it just makes you feel good, like you can actually do something.”
The affirmations from her roller derby team keep Glenna in the game. The competition can be intense while playing, but getting together afterwards with the other team is friendly.
“It’s just been a great group of tough girls willing to work hard and support each other, and that’s what I think I like best,” says Glenna.
The Tallahassee RollerGirls always welcome new recruits and new fans. You can find out more about the team and check out their schedule by visiting TallahasseeRollerGirls.com.